Dennis Williams’, the associate dean of students and the director of the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access, viewpoint “Joe and Jane Hoya Must Go” (THE HOYA, Oct. 24, 2008, A3) is an example of the us versus them politics that have proved to be counterproductive to diversity related issues.

As I have been working this semester to get GUSA to rethink diversity-related issues on our campus, I am of the mindset that we need to move beyond the type of thinking that characterizes the Jane and Joe Hoya debate. Through the forum that the student association held earlier this year with student campus leaders about diversity-related issues on our campus and the many conversations GUSA has held with members of the minority and majority community alike, we have come to the conclusion that pointing fingers only distracts us from achieving a more inclusive campus and culture.

Over the last five weeks or so, many members of the GUSA board and I have struggled to find Joe and Jane Hoya.

We first examined James Kelly (COL ’09) – GUSA’s vice president. We spoke frankly about his goals and concerns in the creation of the LGBTQ center on our campus. I pushed hard to pin him as Joe Hoya, the heterosexual white male at Georgetown, because I am, after all, a homosexual black male at Georgetown who sits on the GU Pride board and worked personally on the campaign for the center.

Last year, I heard his remarks, and thought them stupid and out of touch. At that particular GUSA meeting, I not only had the opportunity to tell him so, but I also got the chance to understand James’ point of view – that we should be embracing an LGBTQ center on our campus because we are Catholic, not in spite of it, and that the university should be more concerned with creating a safe space for LGBTQ students, not covering up an identity-based embarrassment. I learned that though James approached the situation differently, we shared a common commitment to a better Georgetown.

After that meeting, I realized that it was high time to move beyond identity-based politics. Crucifying James, Joe or Jane Hoya is possible, but it characterizes the old politics of division that has created, for some, a repressive Georgetown. We have to let go of the Jane and Joe Hoya archetypes. But in letting go of these archetypes, we as a campus community have to do more to better the experiences of minorities – black Americans, Latinos, fat students, students with disabilities, Asians, LGBTQ students, etc. – so they, on this campus, count as much as the students who represent the majority.

We have to get better at understanding our differences. But we also have to take one step forward and understand that our similarities are greater, that vilifying each other is counterproductive to our end goal, that we are one campus community that subscribes to the same set of ideals rooted in a common tradition. We may all be from different backgrounds with different socioeconomic realities, but when we are on this campus, we are Georgetown.

This year, GUSA has made diversity one of its top priorities, putting its time, energy and money toward a better Georgetown, while also doing more to highlight our similarities. I took this job with GUSA knowing that minorities on this campus were undervalued, that somehow minority groups felt their issues weren’t GUSA’s issues. But this is a new administration, and we understand that the anger and frustration some students feel is very real. We are an administration that refuses to see accountability pass on diversity-related issues. We accept it as our responsibility, and that is why GUSA is doing more to reach out to other organizations and the campus community.

We understand that changing a campus climate and culture depends on many factors, some of which are out of our control. Yet, this year, GUSA is committed to achieving the goals that are within its grasp with the fundamental intention of creating a more inclusive Georgetown.

Antwaun Sargent is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service, the programming Chair of GU Pride and the secretary of diversity-related affairs of GUSA.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.